Mars has been engulfed in a massive dust storm that could last for months. The rare event started on May 30 when scientists observed that a small storm was forming on Mars. Less than two months later, on July 20 the storm was declared global and months may pass before it will end. Storms on Mars are not uncommon but those on such a large scale usually only happen every six to eight years. Andrew Fazekas, astronomy columnist for National Geographic mentioned that the event is a treat for the scientists preoccupied with the weather on other planets, as it allows them to study particular patterns and the way it sustains itself during the given timeframe.
The storm is so powerful that the Opportunity rover had to enter hibernation mode due to the lack of sunlight, and it may wait until September in order to awaken. While the rover is out, several satellites circle around Mars in order to capture as much data as possible. Among the data collected, we can count atmosphere test, storm pattern, and how the atmosphere is affected by the dust storm. The more famous cousin of Opportunity, the Curiosity rover, is taking tests on the surface as its nuclear power core leaves him unaffected by the global eclipse. The information gathered will play a crucial role in the development of a possible human colony on Mars, as it may allow the anticipation of extreme phenomena before they take place, the colonists being able to employ effective counter-measure in order to prevent any potential losses.
The conditions on Mars are already quite dangerous as lethal radiation doses bombard the planet daily due to the lack of a protective atmosphere layer. Weather observations may further increase some plans of creating an artificial atmosphere, making the planet more hospitable and less deadly towards potential life forms.